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~ Alan Chinn          Eight Bells          17 February 2023 ~

I first met Alan at a WBA open day organised at Greg Blunt’s boatyard during a Williamstown Festival …. Alan was the smiling person who greeted Sue and me as we entered the shed and collected our gold coin donation
He was a true advocate for wooden boats and was always generous with his knowledge and advice for a novice boat builder. As a club member Alan was the first to volunteer for working bees and festival attendance to spruik the advantages of WBA membership and his legendary apple crumble at the Christmas party was something to always enjoy.

He was a founder member of the WBA and held various positions on the committee over his 34 years of membership. His encouragement, authority and his humour will be missed by all he came into contact with.

Fair winds, Alan.

Chris Kelly.

~ Jim and Penny remember Alan ~

We first met Alan Chinn at one of those low key, non-commercial woodworking festivals that we used to have in the suburbs. He was looking after a WBA stand with a sailing canoe on display. He was very tolerant as we asked hundreds of questions, happy to chat with newbies and an excellent spokesman for the WBA.

Unfortunately, we were already susceptible to the idea of a sailing canoe because a few weeks before we were paddling a Canadian canoe on Lake Tyers and the wind was blowing us all over the place. We speculated that if we had a sail we could harness the wind. Some time later at the Wooden Boat Centre at Victoria Dock we borrowed Alan’s building jig. The result was an Oughtred designed McGregor canoe. As I made the hull I would look at Alan’s work and despair at my level of skill compared to his.

Alan became the person to ask about anything related to small boats, as well as a source of plans and ideas. He was ever generous with advice and patient encouragement for beginning boat builders.

We still have the canoe. It lives on our front porch and it still gives me pleasure to look at its sweeping planks. It still gives me a thrill to sail it. It still reminds me of Alan.

Almost 30 years later we are still building boats. If we had spent that time, money and mental energy on something profitable we might even be rich, but we wouldn’t have experienced the stimulation of building boats, the adventures of using them, the camaraderie of boat people and the long term friendship with Alan.

So Alan, we blame you for almost 30 misspent years.

Thanks, mate.

Jim Stockton and Penny Braybrook

 ~ Farewell to a friend ~

They say that nobody is indispensable, and I guess that this is true, but if there ever was an exception to the rule it was Alan.

Alan was always ready to offer advice (but only if it was asked for), and his quiet observations usually went straight to the heart of the problem at hand. I ran across Alan on the Wooden Boat Forum, in the section for Selway Fisher boats. I was starting the build of my first wooden boat, a Selway Fisher Northumbrian Coble, and I spent a lot of time on the forum, looking to see what others had done, and asking advice on the seemingly insurmountable problems that I kept on finding.

Alan was a very active member of the forum, having built several Selway Fisher boats. He very kindly steered me in the right direction several times, and invited me to visit him at his workshop, Ibis Boatworks, in Altona, where, over a few cups of tea, he showed me some tips and tricks that would make building my Coble so much easier.

Incidentally, at this stage I didn’t know that I had already met Alan, at the Stringybark Festival in Ferntree Gully, back in the early 1990s, when I spoke to a group of people building a canoe, and promoting their wooden
boat group. The canoe eventually was named Stringybark, and is still in use as one of the WBA club boats.

When I saw Alan at his workshop, he mentioned the WBA, and suggested that I might like to join. Later on, it was at his suggestion that I stood for election to the Committee, edited the newsletter, and set up the WBA’s website as an independent site, using the domain name that I registered for the Association.

Even when Alan was not able to sail on his own he would still come to Albert Park Lake to be involved in the camaraderie, and I was glad to be able to take him for a sail in my Core Sound 17 at one of his last visits to the club. He always enjoyed “messing about in boats”, and filing away ideas that might just come in handy later. Alan always asked after our kids, and suggested boats that they might like to try. It was at his suggestion that we built a couple of Cockleshell kayaks, with Amelia and William getting involved, and learning a lot about the process.

Amongst my prized workshop essentials is one of Alan’s WBA aprons that Jenny gave back to the WBA last year, for members to make use of if they thought they might come in handy.

If I hadn’t met Alan, I might not have found the wonderful group of people that make up the WBA, and my life would have been the poorer for it.

Peter Batchelor

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